The Importance of Breakfast for Your Child

I have often written about how important it is for children to eat breakfast. Studies show that kids who do eat breakfast before school have higher math and reading scores on standardized tests. They focus better and behave better. They are less likely to be absent from school due to health problems. They are also less likely to be overweight because breakfast consumption improves satiety and reduces binge eating.

This week is National School Breakfast Week (NSBW), a reminder from the National Education Association Health Information Network about their Breakfast in the Classroom program. Now three years old, the program helps educators in school communities work through issues in order to deliver breakfast to students in their homeroom or in the first class of the day. To date the program has helped more than 70,000 children in 12 states (who might otherwise go hungry in the morning) get the nutritional and educational benefits of the morning meal. I applaud their efforts. If you’d like to learn more about Breakfast in the Classroom, visit the NEA’s website at neahin.org/breakfastintheclassroom.

In the meantime, I encourage you to make every effort to give your children a wholesome protein- and fiber-rich breakfast at home each day, if possible, no matter how busy you are in the morning. Keep in mind that you don’t always have to cook breakfast from scratch. In fact, you can often make the whole meal, or at least do some of the prep work, ahead of time.

For example, while you are in the kitchen preparing dinner, hard boil some eggs or start some steel-cut oatmeal cooking in a slow cooker to be ready in the morning. Or if your kids like cold cereal, make our Toasted Many-Grain Muesli, which includes oats, pumpkin seeds and walnuts (it keeps for two weeks). If you need some on-the-go solutions for really crazy mornings, make our Wholesome Oat Muffins or Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Cups in advance. Both travel well.

Another quick breakfast option that kids will love is a healthy smoothie, which can be whipped up in a blender in minutes. Just toss in your kids’ favorite fresh or frozen fruit and some reduced-fat milk or plain nonfat yogurt, and you have a quick protein- and fiber-rich breakfast drink.

The bottom line is that there are no excuses for kids skipping breakfast. The academic and health benefits are well worth the effort on your part.

And, by the way, don’t forget to enjoy a healthy breakfast yourself!

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